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Review: All About Steve

The only laughs elicited by All About Steve are those of incredulity at its blanket ineptitude.

All About Steve
Photo: 20th Century Fox

The only laughs elicited by All About Steve are those of incredulity at the blanket ineptitude of this tale about a weird, talkative crossword puzzle author named Mary (Sandra Bullock) who, in an effort to fashion a “normal” life, stalks an uninterested news cameraman named Steve (Bradley Cooper) whom she met on a blind date. By pairing the stars of this summer’s comedy hits The Proposal and The Hangover, as well as featuring a variety of capable supporting players (Thomas Haden Church, Ken Jeong, Keith David, M.C. Gainey, Eastbound & Down’s Katy Mixon), in a dim-witted, joke-free cross-country saga, director Phil Traill confirms that no amount of talent can overcome wretched material, which is an apt way to describe Kim Barker’s dreary script. A social misfit with an encyclopedic knowledge of trivia and an oft-mocked habit of wearing shiny red knee-high boots, Mary is intended to be an endearing kook with a heart of gold even as she pathologically pursues the featureless Steve. However, despite Bullock gamely flashing giant goofy grins, gesticulating wildly, and dropping factoids with nauseating abandon, the character registers as such a grating, unpleasant pest that the callous, harried Steve soon becomes almost sympathetic, a not inconsiderable feat given that he and his egotistical news reporter cohort (Church) are similarly one-note and mirthless. Vainly trying to generate wacky energy through an episodic state-to-state structure and repeated use of Cake’s “Short Skirt/Long Jacket,” Traill’s film hits its formulaic notes with consistent clumsiness. Its early humorlessness, though, doesn’t foreshadow the attempted, unearned heartstring-pulling of a third act that finds Mary, while at the bottom of a derelict mine shaft, learning to embrace her abnormality thanks to the sage advice of a deaf child. It’s a lethal subterranean locale to in which she, and All About Steve in general, should forever be abandoned.

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Thomas Haden Church, Bradley Cooper, Ken Jeong, DJ Qualls, Keith David, Howard Hesseman, Beth Grant, Katy Mixon, M.C. Gainey Director: Phil Traill Screenwriter: Kim Barker Distributor: 20th Century Fox Running Time: 98 min Rating: PG-13 Year: 2009 Buy: Video

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